Saturday, July 21, 2012

Called to be Separate

Over the past few years we have begun to eliminate worldly activities and influences in our lives, even things that seem innocent.  We’ve cancelled our cable television service and have eliminated newspapers, magazines, computer games, and other influences.  Is this radical?   In the past I would have agreed that it is, but I feel different now that I can see the profound effects these changes have made on my life, that of my husband, our marriage and our children.

A well-meaning friend recently told me:  “I don't think God intended you to shut yourself out from all portions of the world though...He expects you to experience things..but use good judgment while doing it..”

Her words made me halt and ponder for a bit.  What exactly does God want?  I think one must be careful to presume God’s intentions and thoughts without knowing His Word.

God has called us to be separate.

2 Corinthians 6:17  -  Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”  (NKJV)

Romans 12:2  -  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  (NKJV)

Romans 8:6  -  To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  (NKJV)

Shortly before His arrest, Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and prayed to the Father, asking God to “sanctify” His followers by the truth.  He said that we, who believe in Him are not of the world, just as He was not of the world.   Sanctify means ‘to be separated’.   We are separated unto God, by the truth.  Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) and we are pilgrims and strangers here (1 Peter 2:11).

We are admonished by Scripture to not “love the world, neither the things that are in the world”  (1 John 2:15-17).

The apostle Paul said, “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2)

Separation does not mean giving away all your money and living like a monk or a hermit, but being fundamentally different from the world around us  -  set apart, sanctified, consecrated, dedicated to God alone.  We cannot avoid working and living among unbelievers, but we CAN avoid becoming entangled in the poison and pollution of this world.  We can refrain from partaking in activities that draw us away from God.

We must avoid temptation when we can.

Even though we may not be able to elude ALL temptation that cross our path, we can avoid engaging in activities and entering situations where we KNOW temptation exists.  We can eliminate things from our lives that we KNOW will draw us away from God.
Matthew 26:41  -  Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

What about 1 Thessalonians 5:21 ?

1 Thessalonians 5:21  -  Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Many would argue that this verse implies that it is acceptable to participate and join in the enticements of the world, because we can “take the good in it and reject the bad.”    Does that mean that it is OK to watch a movie filled containing violence and immorality thinking that we can ignore the bad and just enjoy the entertainment value?

The Apostle Paul is saying, “Examine all things carefully;  hold fast that which is good.”   However, if we read even further, he says, “Abstain from any form of evil.”

You are deceived if you think you can partake of the world’s enticements and not be affected by it.

1 Corinthians 15:33  -  Do not be deceived:  “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

We have the example of Lot who chose to live in the fertile, enticingly successful Sodom and Gomorrah.  He thought that he could live amongst the wickedness and not be affected by it.  Even though Lot did not become corrupted by the wickedness that surrounded him, he ended up losing everything and escaping only with his life.

An angel of light?

We must always keep in mind that Satan comes, disguised as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), to confuse and deceive us.  

My husband and I used to rationalize the watching of many secular movies by thinking that it wouldn’t affect us as long as we only focus on the entertainment value and ignore the violence, immorality, language and vile imagery.   Similarly we used to rationalize many computer games for ourselves and our children.  What we realize now is that ALL things minster either blessing or cursing, either life or death.  There is no in-between.   

Satan approached Eve in the Garden with a twisted version of the truth, and even know she KNEW the truth, she was not rooted in it well enough to counter Satan’s deception.   The only way we can withstand the wiles of the devil, is by knowing the truth  -  His Word.

The reward

Ultimately the bottom-line for us is this: 

“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing;
therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

that you may love the Lord your God,
that you may obey His voice, and
that you may cling to Him,
for He is your life and the length of your days
(Deuteronomy 20:19-20)

We are not making these changes to purchase God’s favor, blessings or salvation.  We are doing it, because we are sincerely grateful for the free gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins that Christ made available to us.  We are choosing to live differently from this world to honor our God and Creator, whose lovingkindness, grace and mercy are worthy to be praised.  We are choosing to avoid all forms of evil in our lives because in doing so we are experiencing the joy of living a life dedicated to glorifying the God who loves us and gave Himself for us.

“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”
(Isaiah 26:3)

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